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  • Video: After a last-second win over Utah State, Jim McElwain makes the kicker lead the fight song

    Nice work by Colorado State here to capture the hoopla of the Rams’ dramatic win over Utah State on Saturday night. Colorado State trailed 13-10 with two minutes remaining, but Jared Roberts knocked in a 42-yard field goal to tie with 1:50 remaining and a 46-yard game-winner at the final horn.

    Inside the locker room, McElwain found Roberts and yelled, “Hell yeah! Lead us in the fight song, kicker!” (Fast forward to the 1:55 mark.)

    The win pushed Colorado State to 6-1 this season, and 2-1 in the Mountain West. Don’t look now, but McElwain has Colorado State at 12-3 in its last 15 games.

  • Polian: “I’d trade our exposure on ESPN for an extra day of prep”

    brianpolianbanner

    Of Nevada’s first seven games this season, three of them have given their opponent at least one more day of prep than the Wolf Pack, the Reno Gazette-Journal pointed out in the early morning hours following the win over BYU. The Cougars, Washington State, and Arizona all had at least one more day of preparation than Brian Polian’s squad, who are 1-2 in those games.

    Another interesting note that has Polian a bit on edge is that eight of their past 10 games have been night games. ESPN picked up the Wolf Pack’s game against BYU nearly two weeks before game day, set it in the late night slot, and decided to feature it on ESPN2.

    While playing on ESPN is always great in terms of exposure, Polian noted yesterday that he would not hesitate to trade that TV exposure for an added day of preparation.

    “When I sit and think about it, it becomes frustrating. Why when the schedule was set do we play people who always have a day or two extra to get ready for us? But I can’t control that.” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

    “We don’t receive anything but exposure on ESPN2, and to be honest with you, I would prefer that exposure was in the afternoon, but, again, (athletic director) Doug Knuth and myself have zero control…so what’s the point?”

    It’s an interesting point, but it’s also something that both he and his AD have little (to no) control over.

    Nevada will head to Hawaii later this week and will have San Diego State next week, and will get both teams on an even playing field as far as prep goes.

  • Jimbo’s message to Jameis Winston after the Notre Dame win: “Humble pie.”

    Florida State accomplished the near impossible over recent weeks – they turned Notre Dame into the nation’s underdog. Jameis Winston has not handled the spotlight well since winning the Heisman Trophy – an understatement on the level of “the sun is hot” – and turned Florida State into college football’s new evil empire. Immediately following FSU’s 31-27 thriller over Notre Dame, Jimbo Fisher reminded Winston of the situation in a nice moment between head coach and quarterback.

    Of course, that entire situation is a series of self-inflicted wounds for Florida State. Want to see a real feel good story to come out of the Seminoles’ locker room?

    Offensive line coach Rick Trickett missed Saturday night’s game due to a health concern. Here’s how his linemen represented Trickett in his absence.

  • Handicapping the race of one-loss teams

    horse race

    We are in a new era that truly has no precedent, so anyone that tells you they know what’s happening in this College Football Playoff era is lying to you. That said, we do have a pretty good idea of how this season shaking out. With eight weeks now in the books, we can begin to handicap the race for the Playoff with more than educated guesses and conjecture.

    Three Power Five undefeated teams remain, and two will play each other on Thanksgiving Saturday. Even if you assume undefeated Florida State and both participants in an 11-0 Ole Miss vs. 11-0 Mississippi State clash will receive golden tickets – and that’s a big assumption – we’re guaranteed to have one of these 16 clubs join them.

    So let’s rank ‘em.

    “Win out and you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

    Auburn (5-1 record, No. 6 in latest AP poll)
    The case for:
    Thursday night win at Kansas State is arguably the most impressive non-conference win in the nation, and certainly in the SEC. Still has more chances to impress than anyone in college football with games against Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia, plus South Carolina and Texas A&M.
    The case against: Will fall behind Mississippi State in the event of a loss by the Bulldogs. Other than that, not much of one. Must travel to Georgia and Alabama.

    Alabama (6-1, No. 7)
    The case for: With games against No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 6 Auburn waiting (plus LSU) Alabama has more chances to impress than the rest of their competition, save for Auburn. And both must come to Tuscaloosa, where they’ve racked up 1,247 yards and 101 points in their last two games. A 10-point neutral site win over West Virginia looks much more impressive now than it did at the time.
    The case against: Good as the Tide looked against Florida and Texas A&M, West Virginia is the only thing Alabama has resembling a quality win at this point.

    Oregon (6-1, No. 9)
    The case for: Has a strong argument for best non-conference win in college football with 19-point win over otherwise-undefeated Michigan State. Blew out UCLA and Washington. Still has games with Stanford and Utah left, plus likely bowl teams in California and Oregon State. When it’s all said and done, Ducks could have wins over five teams that were ranked at the time. Loss to Arizona could fall under injury considerations along with Ohio State.
    The case against: Lost at home, unlike other one-loss front-runners Auburn, Alabama, and TCU.

    Ohio State (5-1, No. 13)
    The case for:
     This team has looked every bit like a top four team since loss to Virginia Tech, beating likely bowl teams Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers by nearly 30 points per game. Chance to earn impressive road win at Michigan State. Play of J.T. Barrett since Virginia Tech loss creates a discussion point for the committee.
    The case against: That Virginia Tech loss has aged like a carton of milk on a Las Vegas sidewalk in the middle of July.

    Notre Dame (6-1, No. 5)
    The case for: Walked into the house of the defending national champions and more than held their own. Earned a hard-fought win over Stanford. Challenging remaining schedule (at No. 17 Arizona State, vs. Louisville, at No. 22 USC) leaves plenty of opportunities to impress the committee.
    The case against: Best win so far is actually a loss. First-half schedule did pan out as planned with Michigan and North Carolina going belly up. Has not won a true road game this season.

    Georgia (6-1, No. 10)
    The case for:
     Odds on favorite to win SEC East, placing them 60 minutes away from an SEC championship. Win over Clemson gets more impressive by the week. Still has chance to earn major win over Auburn, and a quality win over Georgia Tech. Nov. 8 trip to Kentucky is the only true road game left on the schedule.
    The case against: Win over Clemson was before Deshaun Watson took control of the Tigers’ offense. Loss at South Carolina looks less forgivable now than it seemed at the time.

    Michigan State (5-1, No. 8)
    The case for: Should earn major brownie points from the committee for traveling to Oregon. Held a two-score lead in every game this season. Gets Ohio State at home, plus possible Big Ten championship berth.
    The case against: Most, and only, impressive win so far is five-point defeat of Nebraska at home. Oregon loss means only chance for impressive win in an opponent’s stadium is at Maryland.

    Kansas State (5-1, No. 14)
    The case for: K-State is alone in first place in the Big 12, the only team in the conference still with a chance to run the table. The list of teams to win in Norman during the Stoops tenure is short, and Kansas State has now done it in two straight trips. Still has games with Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor remaining, the latter three on the road. The loss to Auburn will play better during selection committee discussions than it would in the BCS era.
    The case against: Loss to Auburn means Kansas State’s only non-conference wins are Stephen F. Austin and UTEP. With the tumultuous state of the Big 12, it’s highly possible the Wildcats drop another game, and equally possible every other Big 12 team still has a loss or two ahead of them.

    TCU (5-1, No. 12)
    The case for: A 30-7 thumping of Minnesota represents the Big 12’s most impressive non-conference win, and the Gophers’ only loss this season. Frogs looked extremely impressive for the entirety of wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and three quarters of the loss to Baylor. Gets Kansas State at home.
    The case against: Baylor loss means TCU’s only chance for an impressive road victory is at West Virginia. Light closing schedule (at Kansas, at Texas, vs. Iowa State) doesn’t leave opportunity to impress after mid-November. That said, I really think the committee will like this team.

    Utah (5-1, No. 20)
    The case for: Three wins over Power Five opponents, all of which came on the road. Has games with No. 22 USC, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 9 Oregon, No. 23 Stanford and No. 16 Arizona coming consecutively.
    The case against: Three road Power Five wins are against Michigan, UCLA and Oregon State. Loss to Washington State, in which Utes held 21-0 lead and lost 28-27, won’t look good in front of the committee.

    Arizona State (5-1, No. 17)
    The case for: Out-Stanforded Stanford in 26-10 win, giving the Sun Devils two wins over currently ranked teams. Still has home games with Utah and Notre Dame, plus trips to Washington and Arizona and a potential date with Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship.
    The case against: 62-27 home loss to UCLA was the very definition of ugly at the time, and looks worse now. So bad was that loss that Arizona State, playing without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly that night, can not use the injury consideration asterisk that Oregon and Ohio State will make their proverbial cases with.

    “You’re going to need some help.”

    Arizona (5-1, No. 16)
    The case for: Beat Oregon in Eugene. Only loss came on a missed field goal in crunch time. Beat Oregon in Eugene. Still has chances for impressive wins at UCLA (although the value is falling here), vs. Washington, at Utah and vs. Arizona State. Beat Oregon in Eugene.
    The case against: The non-conference slate is severely lacking compared to the rest of the Pac-12 contenders, which makes Arizona the most vulnerable to the Pac-12’s cannibalistic tendencies.

    Baylor (6-1, No. 4)
    The case for: Improbable as it was, this is still the team that beat TCU. Still has games with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State ahead, the latter two in Waco.
    The case against: Non-conference schedule of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo is essentially begging for a slap on the wrist from the committee.

    “We’re glad you’re here, now go ahead and take a seat at the back of the room.”

    Nebraska (6-1, No. 19)
    The case for: Favorite for Big Ten West championship, one upset away from becoming Big Ten champion.
    The case against: Loss to Michigan State means Huskers may not beat a ranked team until Big Ten championship. Best non-conference win was Miami. Needed Heisman-worthy play by Ameer Abdullah to avoid overtime with McNeese State.

    Minnesota (6-1, unranked)
    The case for: Simple act of playing TCU is more impressive than anything Nebraska did in non-conference. Has games with Ohio State and Nebraska still on schedule. If they can win out, and beat a one-loss Michigan State for the Big Ten title….
    The case against: Most impressive win to date is Michigan. Needed second-half rally to beat Purdue at home. Is Minnesota.

    Duke (6-1, unranked)
    The case for: If they can win out and beat an undefeated Florida State in the ACC championship….
    The case against: Will likely finish regular season with zero wins over ranked teams. Played Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane in non-conference. Even if they win the ACC Coastal, it’s still the ACC Coastal. Is Duke.

    In all seriousness, congrats are in order to Duke and Minnesota for simply being bowl eligible by Oct. 18.

  • It’s really hard to win football games, and four other thoughts from Week 8

    Bryce Petty

    Week 8 of the college football season was in the books. Let’s take a quick rewind through the day’s events with five quick reactions from a full day of action.

    1. It was a day of significant shake-up in the race for the College Football Playoff. Florida State solidified its place among the top three beyond being last year’s national champions, Alabama, Kansas State, TCU, Oregon and Ohio State (not necessarily in that order) significantly boosted their chances while Baylor all but ended theirs, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State absolutely ended theirs. For more on that, click here.

    2. Let’s play guess the score. Without knowing anything else, what would you say the score of this game was?

    Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 11.57.21 PM

    Maybe a 21-10 win for the home team, right?

    Now let’s add this:

    Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 11.58.52 PM

    Yeah, this is Florida-Missouri.

    The Tigers built a 42-0 lead while impossibly scoring only one offensive touchdown – on a 19-yard drive – thanks to a 96-yard kickoff return, an 82-yard punt return, a 21-yard fumble return, and a 46-yard interception return. Defense has never been a problem for Will Muschamp’s Florida teams, and now the program is to a point where defense is the only thing that isn’t a problem. That’s the only way you fall into a 42-point hole while holding the opposition to 2.4 yards per play.

    Muschamp is now 0-2 when holding the opposition to below 120 yards of total offense at Florida. The rest of FBS is a combined 94-0 over that span.

    3. Let’s play guess the score one more time. Okay, there’s noting deceiving about this box score. This is where Alabama and Texas A&M stood at halftime, a 45-0 Tide lead.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 4.19.49 PM

     

    Alabama might really be this good, but there is no way Texas A&M is this bad. After eight straight weeks and three straight ugly losses, there is no team in college football more desperately in need of a bye.

     

    4. It’s really hard to win college football games. Case in point…

    – Purdue, who led Minnesota 31-20 at halftime and 38-29 in the third quarter, and lost 39-38.

    – Western Kentucky, who led Florida Atlantic on the road 31-14 at the half and 38-28 through three, and lost 45-38.

    – Tulsa, who led South Florida 27-7 at the half and 30-14 in the third quarter, and lost 38-30.

    – Notre Dame, who led Florida State five different times and even registered the game-winning touchdown, and lost 31-27.

    – California, who led UCLA on three different occasions and was in position to try a game-winning field goal, but threw an interception and lost 36-34.

    – Oklahoma, who had one of the best kickers in college football, until he misses two field goals (one essentially an extra point) and gets an extra point blocked, and the Sooners lose 31-30 to Kansas State.

    – Iowa State, who fought back from deficits of 14-0, 28-21, 31-28, 38-31 and 45-38 to tie the game at 45-45 with 28 seconds to go, only to allow Texas to move 68 yards in 25 seconds and lose 48-45.

    – Georgia Tech, who led 7-0, 10-7, 24-21 and 43-42 but couldn’t get one last stop and North Carolina to notch the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left, losing 48-43.

    – BYU, who led Nevada 28-13 at the half before surrendering four unanswered touchdowns in a 42-35 loss despite outgaining the Wolf Pack by 190 yards.

    5. The officiating in the West Virginia’s upset of Baylor was wilder than the game itself. The best thing officials have done this season was pull a rule out of the book. Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman was flagged for targeting on this violent but completely legal hit on West Virginia cornerback Terrell Chestnut, which meant Coleman was (temporarily) automatically ejected pending review.

    After review the penalty was overturned. A year ago, Coleman would have re-entered the game, but Baylor would have still taken six points off the board (Antwan Goodley scored on the play) and had the ball placed at the 35. Instead, the points stood.

    Still, it wasn’t a banner day for the Big 12 refs in Morgantown.

    Mike Pereria trolled the officiating crew later in the game after a flag was thrown on West Virginia for having an illegal man downfield on a 3rd-and-15 screen pass. They then reviewed the play, which you can’t do. Thankfully they did though, because the pass was caught behind the line of scrimmage, which nullified the penalty. After the 324th (approximate) penalty/review of the day, West Virginia fans started throwing things (candy, most likely) on the field. In all, West Virginia and Baylor were tagged with 32 flags for 353 yards.